Sound Off: Why Tennessee will start QB Jarrett Guarantano

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee football team gets back into action with a showdown against South Carolina at high noon ET on Saturday.

The Vols (3-2, 0-2 SEC) and the Gamecocks (4-2, 2-2) have seen their past five meetings decided by 3 points or fewer, and there’s a good chance this week’s game will be close as well.

SEC Country beat writers Mike Griffith and Blake Morgan share their informed opinions on what the Vols need to do if they are to knock off South Carolina.

It has been a week of upheaval for the Vols program. Tennessee coach Butch Jones officially named redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano as the starting quarterback over junior Quinten Dormady on Wednesday.

Two days earlier, it was revealed the Vols had suspended defensive end Darrell Taylor, a key cog of the defensive unit and the spring session’s Al Wilson Award winner for his all-around play on defense. Taylor had been involved in a practice fight with freshman offensive lineman Trey Smith.

Here are the 3 keys for the Vols this week that we discuss in this week’s “Sound Off” video:

Managing quarterbacks

Regardless of which quarterback starts, it’s important Jones and offensive coordinator Larry Scott are pushing the right buttons with play calls and substations. 

Guarantano offers Tennessee a more mobile and more vocal quarterback, but if things don’t work out, Dormady has shown poise and calmness before. 

It could be a matter of right quarterback, right time.

Passion on defense

Taylor brought a great deal of intensity and fire to the defensive front, and with him suspended indefinitely, the Vols will need another defensive lineman to step up.

Kyle Phillips will take Taylor’s starting job opposite of Jonathan Kongbo, but who will provide the vocal presence that Taylor has become known for?

Tennessee needs big plays

Tennessee needs an explosive element to its offense. The Vols have produced only four plays longer than 40 yards this season, and they’ll need more moving forward.

Tailback John Kelly has been involved in two of those plays, passes of 44 yards and 52 yards from Dormady.

The Vols need to get more receivers involved, as well as freshman tailback Ty Chandler.